The majority of drivers and co-drivers competing for the manufacturer teams in Japan this weekend will benefit from a new high performance racing seat, which is designed to help prevent serious injury in the event of a high speed side impact.
It follows the introduction of the Advanced Side Impact System - developed by the FIA Institute's Closed Car Research Group - which was integrated into the rally cars at the start of the year.
"The new specification seat is an integral part of the Advanced Side Impact System and has improved strength and support during rear impacts, and maximises pelvis, shoulder and head protection during side impacts by spreading the load evenly through the occupant's body," explained a statement to the press.
"The seat brackets and belt positions have been specified to create optimised belt strap geometry and angles which ensure the torso is efficiently and equally restrained by each of the straps of the safety harness. A high-g sled test, together with full-scale vehicle testing, has demonstrated that a high velocity 100g side impact could be survived without serious injury.
"For Rally Japan, the seats have been produced in a range of sizes to accommodate the majority of drivers and co-drivers.
"Fine tuning of installation and comfort will take place in Japan and GB before the new FIA Standard is ratified by the World Motor Sport Council. For the 2009 Championship, the seats will be available for all driver sizes."
"I'm delighted that the work of the FIA Institute, the Closed Car Research Group and the manufacturers has led to the introduction of this new seat," said Professor Sid Watkins, FIA Institute president.
"With the second phase of the Advanced Side Impact System in place, we are making significant steps forward in reducing the consequences of side impact accidents."
The next upgrade will be a load spreading door system that will increase the strength of the car in the region of the front doors and reduce intrusion during a side impact accident.